The Tour de France heads to Switzerland for a stage that ends with a tricky and challenging run through the streets of Berne, we provide our sports betting pick for Stage 16.
Tour de France Stage 16
Moirans-en-Montagne to Berne
Mon 18th July, 209kms
This is one last chance theoretically for the sprinters before they head into the Alps. But that is far from certain, with a number of challenges in the closing kilometres that could see several of the pure sprinters left out of the battle.
A day today that promised so much, with Zakarin, Vuillermoz and Ruben Plaza in the large break of the day that was to go on to contest the win. Plaza fell away early enough, but Zakarin and Vuillemoz were looking good in the break. So too was Majka, who, as expected by the whole world, got in the break of the day and hoovered up a shit-load of points to leapfrog into the lead. What was surprising though was De Gendt and Costa didn't make the break, so Majka had a clear run at all the points. Vuillermoz and Zakarin were unlucky in the end, but Vuillermoz's 3rd place gave us a small return at +3300 in betting odds each-way.
Even though they spend the whole day traversing the Jura mountains more or less, and never drop below 426m, it's a transition stage with relatively little climbing, and only one categorised climb, a Cat 4 that comes with 26kms to go.
But that's not the only challenge they face - even though it isn't clear on the map, nor are they categorised, there are two little challenges still to come in the final kilometres. First, there's a rise at 7% for 250m on cobbles, then 600m at 6.5%. This will shake out some sprinters whilst also give strong puncheurs a chance of a late attack - guys like Van Avermaet, Sagan, Matthews, Gallopin and Alaphilippe. And of course, as he's heading home, Fabian Cancellara is one to watch on a finish like this.
The last kilometre of the stage is flat, though, so whether it's a small group of attackers or a reduced group that comes to the line, then it should end in a sprint of some sort. No certainty for the sprinters at all then.
The 16th stage of the Tour de France starts in Moirans En Montagne, just north of Lac Leman and the home of FIFA in Nyon. They will cross along the Jura range, and although the area is littered with many tough climbs, and they spend the day between 426 and 902m, they don't really tackle any hard climbs at all. They head north-east mainly and the road rises gently for more or fewer 100kms until they pass Malbuison, where it start to flatten out and come back down again as they head to the shores of Lac de Neuchatel.
Once on the other side of the lake, they start on the drag up the Côte de Muhleberg, a 1.2km hill at 4.8% average, but the road continues to drag up on a nice, wide road through the wooded area outside of Muhleberg for another couple of kilometres. After Frauenkappelen the road starts to descend gently towards Koniz and loops south of Berne and back into the city.
As they approach the 2km to go sign they go around in a loop rising up through a cobbled section, which rises at 7% for 250m, they approach from the right, climb up to the top left then turn sharply left on to a flat section for 250m as they cross the river again.
Once over the bridge, they start to climb up the hill towards the finish they hit a section of 600m at 6.5% just as they approach the 1km to go kite. This is a hard pull up the hill, make no mistake about it - any sprinters that were already in trouble coming up the cobbled hill above will really start to feel it here.
It could play into the hands of a late attacker, but I can't see many sprinters making it with the leaders at the top of this hill, but if they do hang in there, the last kilometre is flat and dead straight for a sprint.
Contenders and Favourites
Despite the way the online bookies are pricing this stage, I think the sprinters will really struggle on this finishing circuit around Berne. It's going to be chaotic, there are narrow roads, descents, bridges to go under, cobbled sections at over 6%, a long drag before the 1km to go marker It's going to be very hard to control and set up any of the sprinters.
The sprinters will need to have a lot of team-mates to try to drag them up the cobbled section, over the bridge and then up the final drag, and I think that will be too big an ask to keep it all together. There will be lots of attacks and the strong puncheurs will have an advantage over the sprinters I think.
The one sprinter I would give a chance to though is Alexander Kristoff - the Katusha man, as you know, has been one I have been following quite closely, waiting to back him. He was too short I thought though at +7700 in the sprint a few days ago, but he did land a podium spot. He has the power, and the team I think, to possibly be one of the few sprinters there at the finish. You don't win Flanders without being able to kick it over lumpy, cobbled climbs, and he is the one sprinter I'd like to keep onside at +800 at PaddyPower paying 5 places.
Peter Sagan is naturally the favourite for the stage, though, the man can do almost anything, and cobbles, tricky descents, short & punchy climbs, longish, steep drags and sprint finishes are all up his street. He is almost certainly going to be there as they approach the final drag, the problem he might face will be multiple attacks coming at him - he can't chase down everything, and one might stick.
He's best price +500 at PaddyPower (paying 5 places) and that looks like a bet that should bring a return, even if one or two guys get away he should be one of the first five homes. He'll have Kreuziger, Gatto and Majka to help look after him in the run in, and he would be a likely candidate for a late attack himself that could take it. He could even go in the break of the day to try to take the points and the stage. And if it comes to a reduced sprint amongst a bunch of puncheurs, well he'll win that too. In short, he is a strong sports betting pick for this stage.
And of course, the Swiss riders are short prices too for tomorrow. Fabian Cancellara has of course been looking forward to this stage, maybe it was the reason we have not really seen anything of him in this race so far? Has it all been for this stage? Trek are saying that they are going all out to try to win it with him, and it's possible that as he knew he probably wasn't going to win the TT that he took it relatively easy.
This run in would have favoured the Cancellara of old, a hilly run-in with a cobbled section and a possible sprint finish. Almost like the finish in Strade Bianche, but not as steep as that. Of course, he has a chance, but +1300? Not at that price.
Michael Albasini has been keeping a very low profile too, though, we've not seen a lot of him either, just sometimes on the run in on the punchier days he was there helping Matthews. But knowing Orica Bike Exchange they have pencilled this one in the roadbook for months, to try to win it for Alba. He's a very popular member of the team and they'd dearly love to win the stage for him. He has a fantastic record when he races in Switzerland, it really does seem to lift his performance levels when he competes on home soil, and this sort of run-in to Berne should suit him too..
A punchy cobbled bit, the drag up to the 1km, perfect for an Alba attack.. or he can just mark wheels - Peter Sagan's for example and maybe get dragged to the finish where he'd have a chance of a top 5 in the sprint. The +2800 at Bet365 is the best price, but they are only paying 3 places, Boyles are paying 4 but are +2500, but PaddyPower are just +1800, but are paying 5 places.
Edvald Boasson Hagen is suited to this sort of finish too, and if DDD had any sense they would put the team to work to try to win the stage for him. Cav has four wins, Cummings has one, and I think EBH would be their best chance of a victory here. Julian Alaphilippe was furious with the way things turned out today, as were his backers who were on at big prices like +10000. He looked to have the stage in the bag when he attacked away from the leaders, he was looking so strong. This should be one that he likes too but will he be too tired after today's efforts? Possibly.. but he did look so strong and he might race on anger and frustration which could see him attack away on the final hill.
If that doesn't work out for Alaphilippe though, or if he decides out on the road that he just is a bit too tired after today, then maybe Petr Vakoc could step up to the plate on a finish that looks just right for him. At +12500 at Bet365 he's worth a small bet I think. I don't think the GC men will be fighting for the stage win tomorrow, but they will be near the front, watching for time gaps.
Tony Gallopin at +5000 at Bet365 looks an interesting bet for a late attack, he's just +2500 at Paddy Power. Greg Van Avermaet will have his chances on a finish like this too and could be dragged into position by some really strong guys in Tejay, Caruso, Bookwalter, Moinard and Schar who is racing on home soil. And don't forget, BMC are a Swiss-based team and would dearly love to win a stage on home soil as it might help flush out a new sponsor for the team for next year. The +1400 at PaddyPower, paying 5 places looks tempting.
Alejandro Valverde, Sondre Holst Enger, Tom Jelte Slagter - all riders who could have a chance. Has the breakaway any chance? Sure it has, but I think there are too many teams interested in making this a charge through the streets for victory in order for it to be reeled in on time.
I like quite a few, so will scatter a few bets around at various prices. Sagan probably wins again, but I'm going to take him on with a few I've named above, I like some of their chances.
Free Cycling Picks:
0.25pts each-way on Tony Gallopin at +5000 at Bet365
0.5pts each-way on Michael Albasini at +2500 at Boyles paying 4 places or 28/1 at Bet365
0.25pts each-way on Petr Vakoc at +12500 at Bet365
1pt each-way on Alexander Kristoff at +800 at PaddyPower paying 5 places.
0.3pts each-way on Greg Van Avermaet at +1400 with PaddyPower